Tag Archives: Stephen Michael King

Fizz and the Police Dog Tryouts by Lesley Gibbes


FizztryoutscoverFizz and the Police Dog Tryouts by Lesley Gibbes and illustrated by Stephen Michael King, paperback chapter book, 68 pages, published by Allen & Unwin in 2016.

Fizz is a doggie ball of fluffy white fur. He would make an excellent show dog, or lap dog, or companion dog, but all he really wants to be is a police dog! He isn’t big or scary or mean like some of the other dogs trying out to be the next police dog, but Fizz does have a lot of heart. He is fast and brave and clever, but will it be enough to become a police dog?

What a fantastic chapter book! It is perfect for newly independent readers, and will appeal to a large range of children. My first grader is enthralled! She took Fizz off to read in bed, with the edict that she could read one chapter. When I went to check on her, she admitted that she might have read “just a bit more than that, cos it is super good, mummy!”. We will definitely be getting more Fizz books!

After reading many many books about magical creatures, fairies and secret magical lands with my girls (their choice), I am ecstatic to find a book suitable for young readers that isn’t focused on magic, and isn’t marketed just to girls. Sure the dogs talk and the humans understand them, but that isn’t the main theme of the story. Fizz and the Police Dog Tryouts is about believing in oneself and working towards your goals with everything you’ve got. I enjoyed the story almost as much as my daughter.

While the story is fun and amusing, the characters are also interesting. Fizz is an highly lovable character with lots of spark. I liked Benny too, but Amadeus was very very mean! What a scary dog. I am very glad I didn’t have to go up against Amadeus, Fizz is much braver than me.

There are black and white illustrations throughout the book, capturing some of the most important moments of the story. Having the pictures interspersed throughout the text is a great way to prevent early readers from becoming overwhelmed by too many words on each page. I liked the illustrations in Fizz. In particular Fizz and Amadeus were just as I imagined them to be.

Suitable for preschool and lower primary school children, Fizz may also suit older reluctant readers. Fizz’s adventures continue in the next book, Fizz and the Dog Academy Rescue.


Scary Night by Lesley Gibbes and Stephen Michael King


IMG_5022Scary Night by Lesley Gibbes and illustrated by Stephen Michael King, hardback picture book, published by Working Title Press in 2014.

On a dark and scary night, Pig, Cat and Hare set out on a mysterious journey. Through a dark forest, up hills, over a creek and past a deep, dark cave. Do they get frightened? And where are they going in the middle of the night anyway?

With its lyrical text and distinct illustrations, Scary Night is a fun and engaging picture book for pre-schoolers and lower primary school children. There was some repetition within the text, and a few questions that can help to involve kids in the story. My toddlers and kindergartner enjoyed having this book read aloud to them. My kids really got involved in the story, tracing the stars, and making various night noises, such as hooting when they spotted an owl. They all screamed at the appropriate spot too!

The illustrations matched the story perfectly, and provided just the right atmosphere. The use of colour to depict the creepiness of the night is magnificent. I liked the contrast of colours between their journey and their destination. I thought that Cat was particularly cute and my toddlers liked the bats.

Scary Night was an Honour Book in the 2015 The Children’s Book Council of Australia Book of the Year Awards in 2015.

Where Does Thursday Go? by Janeen Brian and Stephen Michael King


IMG_3826Where Does Thursday Go? by Janeen Brian and illustrated by Stephen Michael King, paperback picture book, published by Margaret Hamilton Books in 2001.

What a good question! Just where does Thursday go before Friday arrives? Friends Splodge and Humbug go exploring under the stars on Thursday night to see if they can find out.

With its distinctive and gentle illustrations and a unique story, this beautiful tale celebrates the curiosity of children. My children ask what seems like thousands of questions every day, and I don’t always know the answers, but that never deters them! So Where Does Thursday Go? appealed to their curious minds, and satisfied their love of reading. This is a nice book to share, and we enjoyed talking about what we thought Thursday would look like, and whether it would look different to the other days of the week.

Where Does Thursday Go? is most suitable for preschoolers and  children in lower primary school, but is loved by all of my children.

Goblin in the Snow by Victor Kelleher and Stephen Michael King


IMG_1310Goblin in the Snow by Victor Kelleher and illustrated by Stephen Michael King, paperback chapter book, 73 pages, published by Random House Australia in 2005.

Gibblewort is an horrible Irish goblin who loves annoying his fellow goblins with pranks and tricks. When they get sick of him, they decide he needs a holiday and suggest he visits the snowy peaks of Austria. Once Gibblewort is inside the post bag they change the address so he goes to Australia, a place he hates with a passion! Here he encounters a dragon, snowboarders and adoring fans, but he’d much rather go home.

This is a very simple story of a grumpy goblin and the adventures he has in the snow of the Australian mountains. It is part of a series of chapter books for lower primary school students, great for children ready to move beyond first readers. The chapters are short with easy language and black and white illustrations on most pages. My second grader really liked Gibblewort, despite his foul demeanour, and is keen to read more of his adventures. As an advanced reader, this was much too easy for her, but she enjoyed the story, and thought it very funny when Gibblewort was mistaken for talking moss.

I liked the idea of a story about a bad-tempered goblin, but this tale didn’t really fulfill my expectations. Gibblewort seemed more unlucky than mean, as he accidentally tumbles down the mountain, accidentally falls in the lake, accidentally gets eaten by a fish. I really thought he would be causing more hilarious havoc! Despite falling short of my expectations of calamitous mischief, the story itself wasn’t bad, and it appealed to my kids, which is what really matters to me.

The Pocket Dogs by Margaret Wild and Stephen Michael King


IMG_0439The Pocket Dogs by Margaret Wild and illustrated by Stephen Michael King, paperback picture book, first published by Omnibus Books in 2000, this edition published by Omnibus Books in 2001.

Mr Pockets owns a big blue coat with two big pockets. His little dogs, Biff and Buff, ride in his coat pockets every day as he walks to the shops. A hole develops in Biff’s pocket, and it gets bigger and bigger until Biff falls right through it and is lost. Several people try to help Biff, but he runs away because he is Mr Pocket’s pocket dog and he just wants to be reunited with Mr Pockets and Buff.

This is a cute picture book that my kids really like, it is also popular at their school with the preschoolers and lower primary school children. The language is easy, the story interesting and the pictures are engaging. It shows that knowing who you are and feeling that you belong somewhere are important in life. Biff finds that he is a pocket dog and only a pocket dog, and he belongs with Mr Pockets and Buff, and that makes him happy. My preschooler likes to curl up in my lap to read this book together when she is tired. She likes Biff’s short adventure and his reunion with his best friends.